Local Concern Over Agricultural Visa Changes


THE Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, David Littleproud, has claimed that farmers have warned that removing the Agricultural Visa will increase food prices.

He quoted Mid North Coast fruit and vegetable farmer, Paul Shoker, as being disappointed that the Australian Labor Party has said it will not proceed with the Agricultural Visa, and this will cause greater workforce shortages in the industry.

Mr Littleproud said, “Worker shortages are a significant contributor to grocery food prices rising four percent in the first three months of this year”.

Mr Shoker told News Of The Area, “Until recently we thought there was bipartisan agreement on the Agricultural Visa but Labor seems to have moved away from this, undoing five years of good work.”

He said there have been a lot of band aid solutions during the past two decades and the Agricultural Visa opened up work opportunities to other countries

Mr Shoker said the Agricultural Visa was an acknowledgement of the difficulties of getting a stable agricultural workforce.

He said currently, workers use a variety of visas to work on farms, but the dedicated Agricultural Visa would allow people from a wider range of countries to enter Australia for a wider range of work options.

The Labor candidate for Cowper, Keith McMullen says that Labor will expand the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme (PALM), which allows Pacific nationals to work in Australia for between one and four years in rural and regional Australia, so that primary visa holders can bring their partners and children to Australia.

He says this will boost participation in the scheme, increasing its benefits to Pacific nations and Australian employers from July 2023.

Mr McMullen said Labor will relocate the proposed Agriculture Visa to sit as a third visa stream under the PALM to “create a robust and sustainable four-year visa, with portability, strong oversight mechanisms, protections and rights for workers”.

He said the Agriculture Visa is a great opportunity to provide jobs and economic support for the Pacific Island nations and Timor Leste with 55,000 pre-screened workers ready to go without the need to enter into bilateral agreements.

Mr Shoker said while there might be an increase of workers from the Pacific, the Agricultural Visa opened up opportunities to workers from a much wider range of countries.


By Andrew VIVIAN

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